Since joining Time to Change Wales at the end of 2016, I have witnessed first-hand the power of our volunteers or as we call them,  Champions.  Our Champions are the cornerstone of our campaign shaping the direction of our work day-to-day, and influencing how and why we do things.

On every occasion to date, witnessing a Champion talk quite literally stops me in my tracks, reminding me why our campaign does what we do. It isn’t about how articulate or eloquent a Champion speaks, but rather how real and often raw those exerience are conveyed.  I’ve seen first hand how our champions have the power to captivate and inspire the most sceptical of audiences.  I remember attending an anti-stigma talk in North Wales along with a female Champion, entering a room full of construction workers who were predominantly male. I felt nervous about the reaction and response that our champion would receive. The result however was overwhelmingly positive and quite unexpected given what we know about the reluctance of men speaking about mental health. I have nothing but awe and admiration for our Champions selflessly giving up their time to share the most intimate of experiences and, talk by talk, blog by blog, transform attitudes and behaviours in Wales. Within each and every one of our Champions’ stories lies hope for a Wales free of stigma.

"On every occasion to date, witnessing a Champion talk quite literally stops me in my tracks, reminding me why our campaign does what we do."

Whilst as a campaign, we are forever indebted to our volunteers, we continuously look for ways to give something back in exchange - be it providing specific training or enabling opportunities to develop skills and confidence.

After all, the campaign is about people and the power of sharing experiences so we always listen to the feedback from our Champions, to continuously look at ways to improve the volunteer experience in order to make it as rewarding and empowering as possible. It’s our biggest and most important investment. By building on a solid foundation of trust and mutual understanding, our campaign becomes a two-way process of learning and growing together. We wouldn’t have it any other way. So, I’m taking this opportunity during Volunteer Week to thank each and every one of our Champions in Wales for the work that they do, for us and for everyone affected by mental ill-health, all year round.

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